Eastern Texas and SW Louisiana
We just returned from a 16 day RV trip to eastern & costal Texas and Acadiana. We didn't do too much that would qualify as roadfooding, but I did want to file this report.
Tex-Mex near Austin:
Flores was the best we had. Their new place East of Dripping Springs doesn't look much like a roadfood stop, but then I found out the family has 3 or 4 other places in the area. It was really pretty good, the freshest best tasting we had. Being from NC, I don't know much about Tex-Mex, but this seemed pretty good to us.
Rosies Tamale House - pretty dissappointing, I guess we should have had the tamales! Instead we opted for the Chili Rellenos and Cheese Enchiladas. Sauces were flat, not fresh tasting, and just didn't do it for us. The place looks like classic roadfood with concrete floors and plastic table cloths, but I wouldn't make the trip there again.
Chuy's on Barton Springs Road in Austin: Noisy, bright, rock & roll stuff all over the walls and ceilings, college age and 20somethings everywhere. They told us it would be an hour wait (what else did we have to do?) but we were seated in about 15 or 20 minutes. Loud music, parties, lots of people everywhere. Food? oh yeah, i forgot. so-so at best. Just about what you might find at any Mex chain type place anywhere in the country.
Next was a totally forgettable Mexican type place along the Riverwalk in San Antonio. Most of the places we saw along the Riverwalk were that way. Too bad we couldn't wait til we got to El Mercado. The street market food vendors looked and smelled great.
Port Aransas and Mustang Island was next on the agenda. During our day of sightseeing, we ended up at Charlotte Plummers in Fulton. Mixed reviews on this one. Nice spot with a table overlooking the marina. DW ordered fried shrimp, which were really good... fresh tasting, perfectly fried, lightly breaded. I had the fried flounder. It was very heavily breaded. So thick was the breading that when you tried to cut it with your fork the breading broke apart from the fish. yucch! Too bad we had to get back on the road, I would have liked to have found another place in the Port Aransas area to try.
Next stop was in Charenton LA, just south of Jenrette. We stopped at the Yellow Bowl for dinner. We both enjoyed it. DW had shrimp/crab gumbo. Now I have read about the differences in various types of gumbo on this forum, but still was not expecting "soup"... but something a little thicker. However, it tasted EXCELLENT! Very good. It was my turn to get fried gulf shrimp and I was not dissappointed. Very fresh tasting and perfectly fried.
The following day found us lunching at a place that looked like a real cajun dive.. but it looked a little too modern inside. Boudreau and Thibodeau's Cajun Cooking in Houma was not too bad I suppose. I went for the lunch special - fried catfish with white beans. The fish tasted like farm raised fish, but were lightly breaded and fried just right. The beans were seasoned ok and served over rice. DW had a shrimp Po-boy that was good too.
All in all here is my summary: Having grown up and being used to seafood on the NC/SC coast, I find it hard to beat. And regarding Tex-Mex, I think I need to go back to Austin and start over doing a little more homework before i get there! (One thing the huge influx of Latino farm workers has brought to central NC is some great interior Mexican restaurants.)
And regarding Cajun food and culture.. I think I need another trip to SW LA as well. I didn't find what I was looking for. What I did find is that like most areas in the country.. local culture and cusine is being "watered down" by the non-descript, no-accent, culture that kids and everyone else is trying to copy from MTV.